Governments have been the victims of ransomware attacks this year, from large cities to smaller towns, no one has been immune. Ransomware, a form of malware, encrypts the data on a victim’s computer, locking them out of their computer. It offers the ability to pay for the decryption key using some form of cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin. The malware is usually delivered as a malicious email attachment that is opened by an unsuspecting end user, once executed, it restricts access to the computer. End users are then faced with either paying the ransom or looking at alternatives.
At the 2019 Annual Meeting of the US Conference of Mayors, it was announced that at least 170 county, city, or state government systems have experienced a ransomware attack since 2013 and that 22 of those attacks were in the first half of 2019. Ransomware attacks have hit major cities like Baltimore, Albany, New York and Laredo, Texas. Small towns are not immune either. In a coordinated cyberattack, 22 small towns in Texas were simultaneously attacked. In all of these attacks, vital services provided to citizens were disputed for days and in some cases, months.